The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has thrown its weight behind the Prime Minister's assertion that more needs to be done to tackle alcohol abuse in the UK.

It is understood David Cameron will call on bars, supermarkets and off licences to do more to encourage and ensure people drink sensibly. 

Drunkenness and alcohol abuse currently cost the NHS nearly £3 billion a year. Some measures designed to curb this, including banning the sale of alcohol below cost price, will start in April, while the government will publish its alcohol strategy later on in the year.

Speaking on behalf of the RCN - which is often at the coalface of alcohol abuse - Tom Sandford, director of the RCN in England, said: "The RCN welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister today to do more to tackle the nation's disastrous relationship with alcohol. Frontline nurses see all too often the effects of alcohol abuse and the damage it can cause. It isn't just confined to A&E on a Saturday night. It can affect families and even whole communities through domestic violence, increased crime and chronic health conditions. With NHS finances so tight at this time, it is vital that we address the spiralling cost of alcohol misuse.

"The Government can no longer afford to simply 'nudge' those people who consistently drink at dangerous and harmful levels, so we are glad to see the Prime Minister acknowledge the scale of the problem. The RCN has been calling for minimum pricing for some time as we genuinely believe that 'pocket money prices' along with deep discounting play a significant role in increasing the levels of alcohol consumption in some groups.  Robust regulation on the sale of alcohol, along with sensible minimum pricing, is now desperately needed in order to meaningfully reduce the health damage caused by harmful drinking.

"We look forward to seeing the Government's alcohol strategy later in the year and hope that it will set out some solid practical measures aimed at tackling this serious issue."

Meanwhile, in a further show of support for Cameron's pledge, the London Ambulance Service has reopened an alcohol receovery centre in Soho.

Posted by Robert Mair on 15/2/2012